Denmark, country occupying the peninsula of Jutland (Jylland), which extends northward from the centre of continental western Europe, and an archipelago of more than 400 islands to the east of the peninsula. Jutland makes up more than two-thirds of the country’s total land area; at its northern tip is the island of Vendsyssel-Thy (1,809 square miles [4,685 square km]), separated from the mainland by the Lim Fjord. The largest of the country’s islands are Zealand (Sjælland; 2,715 square miles [7,031 square km]), Vendsyssel-Thy, and Funen (Fyn; 1,152 square miles [2,984 square km]). Along with Norway and Sweden, Denmark is a part of the northern European region known as Scandinavia. The country’s capital, Copenhagen (København), is located primarily on Zealand; the second largest city, Århus, is the major urban centre of Jutland.
Though small in territory and population, Denmark has nonetheless played a notable role in European history. In prehistoric times, Danes and other Scandinavians reconfigured European society when the Vikings undertook marauding, trading, and colonizing expeditions. During the Middle Ages, the Danish crown dominated northwestern Europe through the power of the Kalmar Union. In later centuries, shaped by geographic conditions favouring maritime industries, Denmark established trading alliances throughout northern and western Europe and beyond, particularly with Great Britain and the United States. Making an important contribution to world culture, Denmark also developed humane governmental institutions and cooperative, nonviolent approaches to problem solving.